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Tarantula on road leads to crash in Death Valley, park officials say

Updated October 29, 2023 - 9:46 pm

A tarantula on the road contributed to a crash in Death Valley National Park on Saturday, park officials said.

A 24-year-old Canadian man driving a motorcycle was hospitalized after he crashed into the back of a camper van driven by a Swiss couple who had braked suddenly to avoid the spider, according to a news release from the national park’s spokesperson Abby Wines.

The Canadian man was taken to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump. Wines said in an email that his injuries were non-life threatening but serious enough to warrant being taken to the hospital.

As for the tarantula, it “walked away unscathed,” the news release said.

The crash happened on California State Route 190 east of Towne Pass. The spider was crossing the road.

“Please drive slowly, especially going down steep hills in the park,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds, who was the first National Park Service employee to get to the scene of the crash, in a statement. “Our roads still have gravel patches due to flood damage, and wildlife of all sizes are out.”

According to the park service news release, tarantulas are mostly seen in the fall, when the males leave the underground burrows to search for a mate.

Death Valley National Park, which was closed after extensive damage from flooding from rain associated with Tropical Storm Hilary in August, partially reopened on Oct. 15, but multiple roads in the park remain closed, according to the park’s website.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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